Ugh. Again, the sky cleared after a week of clouds and rain. Again, I got up at 4ish to get out under the dark skies and try to find the 4 comets (supposedly!) visible with small telescopes (at 8″ this thing is not exactly small, so I figured I had a better than decent chance to bag at least one comet).
What happened? Well, I spent an hour out there freezing my fingers off, hunting in vain for the fuzzy little dirty snowballs and found exactly nothing. I had finder charts, I had Google Sky, I had the Telrad zeroed in and working beautifully. I had a well collimated scope.
I had a bad back, cold fingers, and a limited amount of time before (a) sunrise and (b) kid rise.
In short, I failed. Again. So I decided in the last few minutes I had to turn my attention to Jupiter and Mars. The hiss drive was actually working (a bit…it slowed down the progress of the target through the FOV but by no means “tracked” the object) and I figured it would be a good time to try again with the cameras.
This time I tried just the afocal method—I didn’t want to screw around with the computer as an afterthought. If I want to use that, I need to start off in that mindset and dedicate some time to it. Any way, it was all for naught. I got 2 short videos of Jupiter, then could not for the life of me align the lens with the eyepiece just right to get any shot at all. And I saw Mars flash across the camera’s viewfinder once, then never saw it again.
At last, my time was up, so I consoled myself with the thought that I got 2 decent videos of Jupiter to stack and process. Not so. The first one was totally out of focus. The next one, only slightly better. In short, I got two blurry orbs. Makes me want to scream.
Talk about a frustrating session.
Sadly, it forced me to come to a realization I’ve been fighting for the last few months now. My bad back (which the Chiropractor has almost completely fixed—but assures me will never be 100% again) is going to really hamper my hobby with this yard canon. At well over 50 pounds assembled, this thing is a monster. The optical tube alone weighs something more than 30 pounds—which isn’t bad at all, but it’s also almost 4 feet long and awkward as all hell. Considering I haven’t been able to carry my children (Kylie weights about as much as the OTA!) in the last few months, carrying the OTA or disassembling it for transport is just out of the question.
Hence the hiss drive rover. Good concept, good build. But…it puts the telescope up high enough I need to drag out the step ladder to use it in most cases for anything higher than 35º in the sky. Ugh. Couple to that the frustration the hiss drive has been giving me (in all fairness, I spent 30 minutes last night tweaking the dadgum thing and getting it to really slow down targets moving through the FOV, then left the settings alone and packed it up—this morning it worked fairly well…waaaay better than the first 3 times I tried) and the length of time this puppy needs to cool off before observing (I regularly put it out an hour before I go look through it to let it cool off)….
I have come to a realization that this thing is just not practical for me any more. I love this scope and the views it gives me, but if I’m going to have an hour or so to observe (if that!) and I spend it just looking for stuff instead of at stuff, then what the hell is the point of waking up and freezing my arse off at 4am? This the second time in a row I have wasted about 2 hours of sleep for…nothing.
If we had an empty nest or never had kids at all, that would be one thing—but my observing schedule is not set in stone—I kind of grab time when I can.
In short, I think a GOTO scope, smaller and lighter (so as not to aggravate my back) is the way to go. Preferably one with a shorter cool down time. That leads me to the refractor/SCT side of the hobby, relatively uncharted waters. I”m thinking something in the 4-6″ ranger, most likely 5″. Something to really make the planets and moon pop (heretofore 99% of my targets) but that would show me the “basic” DSOs (Messier, and brighter Hershel, NGC, etc).
So, time to start doing some research and figuring out how to sell/trade the dob/hiss drive rover. Because the yard canon just won’t work for me anymore. I’ve been trying to hide from that realization for the past two months, but every time I try to take the scope out, it stares at me in the face and taunts me.
It’s time to face the facts and make the cut.
LOL so if the 3 people that read this blog know anyone looking to buy/trade this dob, let me know!
Time to go cry in my tea….